My caffeine addiction is no secret and I have sipped my way through Berkeley and Oakland in search of the best cafes in the East Bay. There are so many cafes in the Bay Area that it is hard to narrow them down to the best. The following are my personal favorites based on their quality, food options, friendliness, aesthetic, and proximity to my apartment.
The Best Cafes in the East Bay
1. Rasa Caffe
Rasa has a hole in the wall meets intimate art gallery feel. If I have a chance to stop somewhere for a latte before a long road trip this is always my number one choice. They have some of the best tasting coffee in the East Bay (be sure to try a Golden Latte) and are never too crowded. Perfect for a meet up with an old friend or a quiet place to escape to for some alone time.
2. Alchemy Roasters
Alchemy is a co-op owned roastery on Alcatraz Ave and it screams soul. From the sparkling water that is specifically labeled as “NOT owned by nestle” to the collection of books on the public bookshelf everything at alchemy is done with a little more awareness, including the coffee. The space is small but not annoyingly so and the outdoor seating makes it feel a little bigger.
3. Guerilla Cafe
The delicious breakfast fare and hip atmosphere make Guerilla a great place to go for a weekend brunch. Personally, I prefer to eschew the long waits for brunch and go to Guerilla Cafe during they’re slower times. Weekdays between breakfast and lunch is ideal the ideal time to enjoy their tasteful playlists and snag a table to yourself to do some work or enjoy reading.
4. Cro Cafe
Cro Cafe is located in one of my favorite places in the entire East Bay – Temescal Alley. You can enjoy the small seating inside on a cold day or take your drink to-go while exploring some of the local boutiques nearby. Somehow this cafe always makes me feel like I’m not cool enough to belong there but in a way that keeps me going back.
5. Timeless Roasters
An entirely vegan cafe with plenty of sweet treats and sips to satisfy everyone. Timeless has two locations now but their first location on Piedmont Avenue remains my favorite. While Timeless Roasters’ atmosphere and service are excellent their food and beverages truly make it a stand out cafe.
6. Elmwood Cafe
The large sized beverages and extensive menu in one Berkeley’s nicest neighborhoods make Elmwood Cafe a classic coffee destination in Berkeley. Like I said it’s classic i.e. very popular so don’t head here if you are in a rush.
7. Highwire Roasters
Highwire has been around for a while and now and has a few different locations as well as a ubiquitous presence around East Bay farmer’s markets. My favorite is the Rockridge location inside Market Hall. It barely has enough room for all the people trying to order (even with standing tables outside) but for some reason I swear the coffee tastes better there. If you are looking for a digital detox head to their San Pablo location for some more hearty food selections and a wifi free space to focus.
If you are an avocado toast lover look no further, this is the spot for you. Bartavelle’s artisanally crafted menu exudes high quality and arguably pretension but it is undeniably one of the best cafes in the East Bay. Be prepared to wait for your food and drink and probably a spot to sit as well but know that the high quality and fresh taste are worth the wait every time.
This cafe just opened in Berkeley’s Fourth St district and it is already one of my go-to’s. A soft color palette and plenty of light make this spot highly Instagrammable. Their menu has selections ranging from burgers to chia pudding and it seems like they have something to please even the pickiest of customers.
There are so many amazing small cafes in the East Bay but we are also lucky that our local chain coffee is great as well. If you find yourself in need of a pick-me-up when you are out and about, forget about Starbucks and opt for Peet’s instead.
There you have it ten of the best (and my personal favorite) cafes in the East Bay. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know where you get your caffeine fix in the comments below.